As of November 2002, the UN had 191 member states, including 51 charter members (the 50 countries that sent representatives to the San Francisco conference, plus Poland, which ratified the charter shortly afterward) and 140 states that have joined the organization since 1945, the great majority of them former colonial territories that have achieved independence. The table in this chapter shows the growth of UN membership, the roster lists the members of the UN in alphabetical order and gives the dates of their admission to the UN. The roster does not take account of the several federations or unions of states that were created or dissolved during membership.

Thus, Syria, an original member, ceased independent membership on joining with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic in 1958. On resuming its separate status in 1961, Syria also resumed separate membership, which is still officially dated from the country's original day of entry. Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined the UN as separate states in 1961 and 1963, respectively, but in 1964 merged to form the United Republic of Tanzania, with a single membership officially dated from Tanganyika's day of entry.

Similarly, The Federation of Malaya joined the United Nations on 17 September 1957. On 16 September 1963, its name was changed to Malaysia, following the admission to the new federation of Singapore, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak. Singapore became an independent state on 9 August 1965 and a member of the United Nations on 21 September 1965.

The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were admitted to membership in the United Nations on 18 September 1973. Through accession of the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany, effective from 3 October 1990, the two German states have united to form one sovereign state.

The unification of the two Germanys began a process of realignment of nations that intensified as communist governments collapsed throughout Eastern Europe. In only two years 15 separate states from the former USSR were admitted to membership. As a result of this sweeping change, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (an original member of the United Nations) became the Russian Federation. In a letter dated 24 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin, then president of the Russian Federation, informed the Secretary-General that the membership of the Soviet Union in the Security Council and all other United Nations organs was being continued by the Russian Federation with the support of the 11 member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Czechoslovakia also was an original member of the United Nations. On 10 December 1992, its Permanent Representative informed the Secretary-General that the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would cease to exist on 31 December 1992 and that the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, as successor states, would apply for membership in the United Nations. Following the receipt of their applications, the Security Council, on 8 January 1993, recommended to the General Assembly that both the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic be admitted to United Nations membership. Both were admitted on 19 January 1993.

In 1993, the proposed admission of a part of the former Yugoslavia, which had been known as the Republic of Macedonia, formed the subject of protest from the government of Greece, which considers the name "Macedonia" to pertain to one of its internal states. Now bearing the unwieldy name of "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," the new country became a member on 8 April 1993.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an original member of the UN until its dissolution following the establishment and subsequent admission as new members of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Slovenia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was admitted on 1 November 2000; in February 2003, the country changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro.

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